Trip 45, post #3 – From WA to SA, and the people in between

We’ve been away one full week now, spending that time by ourselves, in WA. But now it’s time to head towards SA and en route we’ve caught up with a few people of interest.

1st person was BJ (Big Jeff), our travelling buddy for much of the next 6 months. He had made his way from Perth to Southern Cross to catch up with his friends, and our friends of friend, Lou and Leanne (persons 2 & 3), who now live and work in Southern Cross. Lou and Leanne very graciously invited us to park the van in their backyard and join them, BJ and another couple, Jim and Gloria (persons 4 & 5) who also happened to be staying with them this weekend, for Sunday night roast dinner. A lovely evening, full of good food and conversation, and it was great to catch up with Lou and Leanne again. Jim regaled us with some amazing stories of his outback travels and worked as a grader and truckie over the years.

We spent a bunch of the trip being overtaken by these guys, V8 SuperCars being transported from Perth to Darwin for the next race
Side of a shed in Coolgardie
The Marvel Bar Hotel, currently for sale, in Coolgardie

Leaving Lou and Leanne’s on Monday morning, 20th May, we headed east with BJ, stopping in Coolgardie for some food supplies, then Norseman for refuelling, and finally stopping for the night at Newman Rocks, a free camp some 140km east of Norseman. Jules, Rod and I had camped here a few years ago and pretty much had the site to ourselves, parking our van out on the granite boulder of Newman Rock. But over the years the word must have got out as the area was busy, at least 20’odd vans spread out throughout the vast area. They’ve also fenced off driving access to the rock, so it was a quick walk out there on Tuesday morning to check it out, before hitting the road again.

Today’s (Tuesday) plan was to make our way through to “On top of the ridge Madura”, another free camp, perched atop the escarpment of Madura pass, just opposite the Madura roadhouse. To break up the day, we stopped in to check out the Caiguna blowhole, one of the many limestone holes and caves that are spread throughout the Nullarbor limestone karst. Then to Caiguna Roadhouse itself for lunch.

BJ aside Caiguna blowhole

Now, it so happens that our good friends Phil and Mel, who are neighbours and friends of my sister and bro-in-law (but to be clear, Phil and Mel like Jules and me much more than Max and Scott), well they happened to be on their  Aussie jaunt, heading west to WA, then North up to northern WA and NT, before heading back to Vic. Well, we’d both been following each other’s travels and noted we’d be passing each other, heading in opposite directions today. A quick message between Jules and Mel whilst in mobile coverage and we arranged to catch up with Mel, Phil and their travelling buddies Gary and Trish (persons 6, 7, 8 & 9) at a roadside stop in between Caiguna and Madura. It was fantastic catching up with Mel and Phil, and nice to meet Gary and Trish, we had a lovely 40 minutes catching up, laughing, and checking out their new vans. It would have been great to spend more time with them, but unfortunately, our respective journeys pointed towards opposite ends of the country, so we took a bunch of pics and headed our separate ways.

On the road again
A mid-Nullarbor catchup with Mel and Phil, and their travelling buddies Gary and Trish
Love ya guts Mel

90 minutes later, we pulled into our beautiful, ridge-top free campsite for the night at Madura. Uninterrupted views to the South, with the sun setting behind us, making us keen for the sunrise so we can watch it light up the escarpment. I intend to brave the morning chill to take some pics, but let’s see how brave I am tomorrow morning.

Ah the serenity
Our Top of the Ridge campsite at Madura
Campsite at Madura
Drone shot of our campsite at Madura
Drone shot of the escarpment and Madura pass
Moonrise over the track
Early morning sun around the campsite
Early morning sun around the campsite
Early morning sun around the campsite
Early morning sun around the campsite

The vintage car graveyard, out back of the Madura Roadhouse
The vintage car graveyard, out back of the Madura Roadhouse
The vintage car graveyard, out back of the Madura Roadhouse
The vintage car graveyard, out back of the Madura Roadhouse
Jules and BJ at the Madura cave
Checking out the cave and posing for a pic
Entering the cave
Looking back out of the 2nd cave
A shaft of sunlight penetrates the gloom about 30m into the 1st cave
Three dead roos inside the 2nd cave
Fossilised shells in the gravel pit
The bush at Madura

From Madura, we crossed the WA/SA border and camped on the Bunda Cliffs at peg35. I had intended to camp on one of the sheer cliff face camps but buggered up when selecting the peg35 site off WikiCamps, but in the end, I was happy as our camp allowed me to hike down to the water’s edge for some exploring and pics.

Camping atop the Bunda Cliffs, to see a sunset and sunrise had been on my to-do list now for years, so I was happy the wind and weather allowed it and made it a fantastic experience. A little campfire to warm our feet and a chat with our neighbours, Trevor, and Ros (persons 10 & 11) from SA, made it a pleasant evening, despite the frequent rumble of the road trains as they passed through.

Morno’s and rest stop at Border Village on the WA/SA border
Sign at Border Village
Where we camped
Our Bunda Cliffs campsite
Our Bunda Cliffs campsite
Jules with the setting sun afterglow and moonrise
Our Bunda Cliffs campsite
Shot along the coastline from the water’s edge
Drone shot along the coastline from our campsite
Drone shot along the coastline from our campsite
Brekky on the Bunda
Our stop atop the real Bunda Cliffs
A selfie on the cliff from the drone
Another selfie taken at the same spot on the cliff by the drone
I love these drone aerial shots of the coastline
I love these drone aerial shots of the coastline
I love these drone aerial shots of the coastline
I love these drone aerial shots of the coastline
I love these drone aerial shots of the coastline
I love these drone aerial shots of the coastline
Bunda cliffs facing west
Bunda cliffs facing east

A really short drive today, just 65km to the ex-Koonalda Station, about 20km north of the Eyre Highway. I’d found Koonalda on WikiCamps and chose to visit as there are heaps to see including the old homestead, the telegraph station, shearing shed, a car graveyard, a huge Koonalda cave and a blowhole! After setting up camp, we unhitched the vans and spent the arvo taking in the sites. The cave is a massive sinkhole that is fenced off for safety, and upon reading the info sign at the old homestead, the cave is the reason the station existed as it contains an underground lake that the station owners pumped from and used for water. The shearing shed, homestead and telegraph station are all great examples of a bygone era, and it was great to see no one had graffitied the house or shed. There are plenty of photo opportunities around the old cars and general detritus, including a small family of Mulga Parrots. Finally, the blowhole allowed us to pose like Marilyn Monroe as the exiting air was strong enough to flutter our shirts up! The only downside to the place was the talcum powder-like dust which gets everywhere.

Atop the Koonalda cave sinkhole
A drone shot of the Koonalda cave sinkhole
A drone shot of the Koonalda station
The Koonalda homestead
Inside the Koonalda homestead
Inside the Koonalda homestead
Inside the Koonalda homestead
A beer bottle dump at the Koonalda homestead
An old shed at Koonalda
The car graveyard at Koonalda
The car graveyard at Koonalda
The car graveyard at Koonalda
Mulga Parrot at Koonalda
Mulga Parrots at Koonalda
The Koonalda Shearing Shed
The Koonalda Shearing Shed
The bush around Koonalda

Whilst we’re already technically in SA, the last leg of our WA to SA trip, and final part of the blog post was the drive from Koonalda out to Mexican Hat Beach Campground, just north of Fowlers Bay, at the far North Western edge of the Eyre Peninsula. But before Mexican Hat, we stopped at the Nullarbor Roadhouse for a bacon and egg sanga and coffee. Diesel was $2.89 at Nullarbor, but just down the road at Yulata, it was only $199.9, so you can guess where we filled up! Then it was out through the old township Coorabie and the heavily corrugated road to the beachside camp. To make the trip a little less shaky, I stopped to let some air out of the tyres, only to then have one of the valves on the van tyre fail. After depressing it to let some air out, it then failed to re-engage and kept spewing air out. Luckily, I managed to cap it with the dust cap, whilst I arranged to take the weight off it and change it out for a spare valve.

Another WikiCamps find, Mexican Hat Beach Campground is so-called for the Mexican hat-shaped rock (island) in the bay. We were the only people here so got the pick of the few sites, though another couple did arrive and camp later that evening. After hot showers (at the vans), it was a nice meal by the campfire as we watched the amazing sunset, followed immediately by an equally impressive moonrise above the bay.

We’d opted to spend a couple of of nights here, so after a lazy brekky, we did some exploring, I (Tony) managed to get the Ranger very briefly bogged in the sandy section of the track as I didn’t have the clearance. But it only took 5 minutes with the MaxTracks to get us out. The rest of the arvo was spent looking around, catching up with the girls on the limited mobile coverage and picking BJ’s caravan door’s lock as one of the locks had jammed.

Mexican Hat rock/island top left
Mexican Hat in the sunset afterglow and rising full moon
Sunrise over the bay
Mexican Hat silhouette at sunrise
Mexican Hat in full morning sunlight from the drone
A bird soaks up the morning sun
An aerial shot of the small cove just around the corner from the bay at Mexican Hat
The coastline looking further West, past the cove
Couple of Sea Lions catching some ZZZs on the rocks
A Sea Lion returning from the sea for a rest
Either a yawn or a sneeze – hard to tell
The sand dunes east of Mexican Hat Bay, it was out here that I briefly got bogged in the sandy track
BJ trying to pick his caravan door lock
My best Blue Steel look
Campfire at Mexican Hat
Pumping the tyres back up after the gravel road in
Sign at Nullarbor Roadhose

Before we wrap this post up, a big mention to the hundreds of other travellers like us who gave the obligatory Aussie Wave as we passed on the road (persons 12 to lots…). Tomorrow we’re off via Ceduna to restock and then we’ve planned to head out to Murphy’s Haystacks for a night or two, as we start our Eyre Peninsula leg of the trip.

4 Replies to “Trip 45, post #3 – From WA to SA, and the people in between”

  1. Great pictures Budgie
    Looks like your have a great time
    I look forward to your next post
    Stay safe

  2. What a great start to what is going to be an amazing trip. Isn’t it amazing how those old homesteads just get left like that. Looking forward to reading more

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